Ketubot, Chapter Twelve, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

A widow who has not claimed her ketubah is maintained from the estate of her husband.  Our mishnah deals with the question of whether or not the widow needs to be in her husband’s house to receive her maintenance from her husband’s inheritors.

 

Mishnah Three

1)                     A widow who says, “I do not want to move from my husband’s house”, the heirs cannot tell her, “Go to your father’s house and we will maintain you”, rather they must maintain her in her husband’s house and they give her a residence according to her honor.

2)                     If she said, “I have no desire to move from my father’s house”, the heirs can say to her, “If you stay with us you will have your maintenance, but if you do not stay with us you will receive no maintenance”.

3)                     If she claimed [that she didn’t want to live there] because she is young and they are young, they must maintain her while she lives in the house of her father.

 

Explanation

Section one:  A widow has a right to remain in her husband’s house and receive her maintenance there. The inheritors cannot ask her to leave, even if they promise to provide her with maintenance somewhere else.  Furthermore, they must provide for her at the same level that she received while her husband was alive. If her husband lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous, she may continue to do so, even if it eats into his children’s inheritance.  She must live in a proper part of her husband’s house and may not be put into lesser attractive quarters.

Section two:  However, the widow does not have the right to force the heirs to give her maintenance money elsewhere.  If she wishes to live in her father’s house, the inheritors can respond that she will only receive maintenance in her former husband’s house. 

Section three: The mishnah now mentions the one exception to this preceding rule.  If she is young and they are young, she may not want to live there for fear of impropriety.  It may even be that she may not be that different from them in age.  If she makes such a claim, she may receive her maintenance money in her father’s home. 

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